Health factory. People come with crutches, leave on their own two feet - this is the legend and attraction to the Piešťany spa.
The Thermia Palace is attached to one of the oldest spa buildings, the Irma; right next door are the classical Napoleonic Baths, a favorite among visitors. The original tower that pumps the healing waters from the earth at 67-69 degrees centigrade still stands watch over the baths; a fountain at the end of a colonnade dispenses steaming water for a curative drink.
But the real business of Piešťany takes place in the massive, modern hotel complex at the northern end of the "spa island," a narrow strip of land in the middle of the Váh attached to downtown Piešťany by a pedestrian bridge.
"This is really a factory of health," said Marián Tarana, a spa employee. As many as 1,300 people undergo treatment here each day, starting at a central registration desk and proceeding to the office of one of 40 physicians for a list of treatments they should undergo, from underwater massage to electrotherapy.
Tarana tells the miracle stories: a patient who visited Piešťany in a wheelchair and walked away on his own; a desperately overweight Kuwaiti boy who lost almost 200 kg through treatments. Successes like these drew around 16,000 people to the spa last year from Germany and Austria, Israel, Kuwait, the USA, and other countries.
In the summer months the town doubles in size. Crowds pack the sidewalk cafes in the pedestrian zone; concerts and outdoor art exhibitions draw visitors and locals alike to the green swath of parkland beside the Váh. For the fit, Piešťany boasts a dozen tennis courts and waterskiing at nearby lake Sľňava; it also claims that it has more sunny days each year than any other Slovak town.
S&S Travel Tips
How to get there
About an hour from Bratislava on the Bratislava-Žilina train line.
CK Fifo, Hotel Eden, Winterova 60, 0838/247-09.
Spa headquarters - Winterova ulica 29, 0838/512-198.
Thermia Palace- Kúpeľný ostrov 1, 0838/516-152, fax 0838/225-04. Don't forget to book one year ahead. Spa treatment, outdoor thermal water swimming pool, solarium, sauna. Double room 67 USD (Nov.-Feb.).
Interhotel Magnólia- Nálepkova 1, 0838/262-51, 52 or 53, fax 0838/721-149. Located on the bank of the Váh river, only 100 meters from the town center. Fitness center, casino and all the services. Double room 1,760 Sk.
Hotel Eden- Winterova 60, 0838/250-09, fax 0838/221-23. On the main drag. Double room 1,540 Sk.
Hotel Sĺňava- Hlboká 47, 0838/726-149, tel/fax 0838/726-992. Day&night bar, fitness center, sauna, solarium, swimming pool. Double room 1,280-1,820 Sk.
Hotel Váh- Krajinská 11, 0838/233-87, fax 0838/253-93. Restaurant, day &night bar, disco. Double room 720-780 Sk.
Penzión Solid- Vajanského 12, 0838/264-52, fax 0838/726302. You can rent a bike in this hotel. Near the town center. Double room 585- 780 Sk.
Penzión OK- Hviezdoslavova 25, 0838/225-97. In the town center, problems with parking. Double room 20 DM.
Recreational center Poppy- Rekreačná 7, 0838/723-336, fax 0838/722-052. Fitness center, solarium, sauna. Double room 800 Sk.
4. Dec 1997 at 0:00 | Hannah Wolfson